Overthought, A Podcast

Overthought is a compelling examination of the lives of classical singers Isaiah Bell and Chris Mayell, discussing performance psychology, creativity, entrepreneurship, life balance, self-doubt and the ways we overcome challenges to attain artistic triumph.
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Overthought, A Podcast



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Now displaying: 2015
Dec 22, 2015

This week we're talking about a sort of reverse Golden Rule: "Would you ever treat other people the way you treat yourself?" To many of us self-critical, people-pleasing types, cutting ourselves some slack feels like a sign of weakness; if we learn to treat ourselves gently, won't we sacrifice productivity? Or could love and understanding make us better at what we do? Sounds like commie talk, but at this point we'll try anything. Brought to you by the Palomino Blackwing, ideal for those who prefer a soft, dark line.

In keeping with the Overthought collaborative spirit, we've designated this space for your best "self-love" joke: [                                                         ].
Thank you for your contribution!

Dec 15, 2015

We all know that colleague who has to turn every conversation into a promo for their upcoming show, or their side business, even though you're a friend and not a casting director.

Where is the sweet spot between being "savvy self promotor" and an annoying blow-hard? As contractors and sole proprietors, we need to let people know that we are good, and that we are busy, and sought-after. And we have to be responsible for getting our own work (agents or no agents). But how do we do this in a genuine way? Perhaps the answer lies in effective networking. But what does that actually mean?

How do you sing an audition, or have a conversation with a general director, in such a way that you seem "eager & energetic", but don't seem "desperate & irritating"?

-=- Show notes -=-

Book - The Introvert Advantage: How To Thrive in an Extrovert World

MailChimp - Mail Chimp; Send Better Email

Canada's Law on Spam and Other Electronic Threats

MailChimp Knowledge Base Article - About the Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

The Grammarphobia Blog: It’s NYOOZE to us

How To Network Without Being Fake, by Jenn Scalia

IMdb - It Should Happen to You (1954)

YouTube - It Should Happen to You - Trailer

YouTube - #AlexFromTarget Meets #EllenFromEllen, TheEllenShow

Podcast - Get Fact

YouTube - Judy Garland: 'Meet Me In St. Louis'. 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'

Theme Music: Slyvius Leopold Weiss's Preludio in E Major, played by Jeff Carter

Dec 8, 2015

And now, for your amusement: Chris and Isaiah stare into the abyss of human mortality. We fill our days with music and with the business of being alive, but it's the human condition to wonder, "What's it all about?"

How much of the creative life is fuelled by the idea of legacy? Will some piece of us live on when we've ceased to exist? When does a longing to be older turn into nostalgia for lost youth? Is the knowledge of death's inevitability present in our every action?

Our desire for meaning in life may go eternally unfulfilled, but your desire to hear a man yelling like a goat that yells like a man will not, if you listen through to the end. #YOLO"

-=-Show Notes-=-
Hooded nordic onesie | Simons:

These Are Not The Best Years of Your Life | A Silver Twig:

The Collaborative Piano Blog - Martin Katz Interview

Urban Dictionary - Yolo – Because LOVE Never Dies Five Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler

10,000 Hours To Develop Talent

5by5 | Back to Work #89: Burlap Sack Full of Oranges

IMdb - Interstellar

YouTube - Henry Purcell: Dido's Lament, Anna Dennis, soprano, with Voices of Music 4K UHD

Panoramio - Photo of Lobby, Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, Place des Arts
Busts of Claude Champagne and Beethoven

Image - Point of Origin

How to Tell a Raven from a Crow

YouTube - Goats Yelling Like Humans

Dec 1, 2015

Are other people's opinions of us more important than literally any other thing? We were pretty sure the answer was "No, for sure no!" but, upon further discussion, we've arrived at "...maybe?"

Why do put so much stock in what other people think? Caring too much can undoubtedly harm the integrity of our work (and our mental health) - but how can we learn to move past it?

Featuring an unprecedented number of references to therapy.

-=- Show Notes -=-

Book - 'The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Insdustry', by Jon Ronson

YouTube - 'What's On Your Mind?'

Website - Filling the sequence gaps - Jurassic Park Wiki - Jurassic Park, Dinosaurs, Stephen Spielberg

Website - Urban Dictionary - Urban Dictionary: yp/mp

Wikipedia - Nancy Argenta, soprano

Website - Definitely the Opera - A Day in the Life of Canadian mezzo: Vicki St. Pierre

Website - Quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt

Wikipedia - Marquis de Sade

Book - 'Juliette', by Marquis de Sade

Nov 24, 2015

Does it get any worse than being sick when you have to sing? Chris and Isaiah manage to compound the unpleasantness - using only the power of their miiiinds! Featuring guest appearances by Guilt and Shame ("the other G&S"), and wistful praise of the placebo effect.

-=- Show notes -=-
Website: Lucia Cesaroni, Soprano

Article: The Guardian - 'This column will change your life: the mind-body connection', by Oliver Burkeman

Article: Montages Magazine - 'Unbreakable, Part III: Visual style' by Dag Sødtholt

Website: HowStuffWorks - 'How Haptic Technology Works'

YouTube - Parpignol from La Bohème

Article - Idea Sandbox - Performance = potential – interference (P=p-i),

YouTube - With Any Luck, You'll Hit Rock Bottom

Article - Mindbodygreen - 'A Strange (But Effective!) At-Home Cure For The Cold & Flu', by Dr. Katie Corazzo

Podcast - On Being - 'Ellen Langer — Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness'

Article - Wikipedia - Placebo

Website - BBC Horizon show transcript, 'The Truth About Vitamins'

Website - USCF - Immunology Module >> Prologue: The innate and adaptive immune systems

Website - CBC Music - Opera Singers Wearing Scarves, A Gallery!/blogs/2015/11/Opera-singers-wearing-scarves-a-gallery

Website - BuzzFeed News: How A Fake Quote And Old Image Of Meryl Streep Went Viral (Meryl Streep subway picture)

Theme Music: Slyvius Leopold Weiss's Preludio in E Major, played by Jeff Carter

Nov 17, 2015

Is opera dying? Is it a poor fit for the culture and entertainment needs of the 21st century human? Do flagging audiences and house closures signify a need for innovation or a fundamental weakness in the art form? Chris and Isaiah discuss shared experiences as cogs in the (faltering?) opera machine, and offer opposing viewpoints on where the art form might be headed. Disclaimer: contains multiple disclaimers.

Nov 10, 2015

In this episode Chris and Isaiah tackle the causality loop that can exist between obsession and creativity. For Isaiah, obsession is something that happens in response to an internal compulsion to create. For Chris, the obsessions can often be the source of the pressure itself, which leads to a creative output. Chicken and the egg, my friends.
Wild and fantastic comparisons are drawn between obsession and mortality, and the urge for us all to create a legacy in order to escape death.
For an obsessive person with a brain that's always thinking and processing at full steam, unwanted or unimportant thoughts sometimes come in and start to get processed, even if those thoughts are not helpful, or mentally healthy.


-=- Show notes -=-

John & Hank Green

Picture of desk

WordPerfect 5.1 keyboard shortcuts

Artist - Carravaggio

Book - 'The Worm at the Core: On The Role of Death in Life', by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski

Book - 'Vocal Wisdom: Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti', Giovanni Battista Lamperti

Isaiah's Children Book

Theme Music: Slyvius Leopold Weiss's Preludio in E Major, played by Jeff Carter

Nov 3, 2015

In this episode of 'Isaiah Misquotes Science', a discussion about instincts, in response to a singer who told Isaiah to always "go with your gut". But what if you literally can't hear what your gut is telling you, over top of all your mind traffic? Some people seem to be able to access this part of them more easily than others. But, apart from noticing & running away from lions, are there practical modern day situations where letting go, and following the gut allows us to do our best?
Let's find out by overthinking the subject for an hour!

-=- Show notes -=-

Article: Pscyhology Today - 'Your Backup Brain'

SciShow: Why Body Hair? (Partial Answer: Pheromones)

Myers-Briggs MBTI Basics: Sensing or Intuition

Grammarist - Instinctive vs. Instinctual

YouTube: TED-Ed - How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Book: 'Vocal Wisdom: Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti'

Book: 'The Inner Voice: The Making of Singer', Renee Fleming

YouTube: Holland's Got Talent - mira Willighagen - O Mio Babbino Caro

Photo: Mabel The Dog

Photo: Pixel The Cat

Article: Singing with Appoggio For Dummies

Video: TED Talks - Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Book: 'The Velvet Rage, Overcoming The Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World', Alan Downs

Wikipedia: Somatic Experiencing

Oct 27, 2015

Chris and Isaiah wonder if confidence a necessary "next step" that takes you from being an enthusiastic amateur to a true professional. If this is the case, then why are some highly skilled professionals so lacking in confidence, while some other less-talented folk can exude confidence so easily. What is the crucial distinction between confidence and arrogance? Surely, true confidence must come from a quiet and genuine spot from within. But then, to be truly confident, do we lose that part of us which seeks to strive for better?

-=- Show Notes -=-

YouTube: The Sound of Music - I Have Confidence

YouTube: Carrie 1976 They're All Going to Laugh at You [GRAPHIC/VIOLENT CONTENT]

Book: 'Come, Thou Tortoise', by Jessica Grant

Wikipedia - Too long; didn't read;_didn't_read

Article: 'Hedonic Treadmill: Happiness Throughout a Lifetime'

Article: 'Easily Distracted By Noise? You Might Just Be A Creative Genius'

YouTube: British English Slang "Chuffed"

Theme Music: Slyvius Leopold Weiss's Preludio in E Major, played by Jeff Carter

Oct 20, 2015

In this discussion about life's irregularity (geographical, financial, social, mental), Chris & Isaiah attempt to determine if this irregularity is a necessary component in The Singer's Life. Is your creative mind sparked when your life is so transitory that you can't remember your current hotel room number? Why do we sometimes crave regularity, but then feel near-instant boredom when we finally experience it?
Isaiah impulsively & briefly describes 9-5 jobs as "magical", and Chris forgets how to speak properly.

-=-Show notes-=-

Wikipedia - The Uncanny Valley

Podcast - OnBeing, September 21, 2015 with Ellen Langer

YouTube - The Attitude of the Beginners Mind by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Book - 'Theatre of the Unimpressed' by Jordan Tannahill

Website - 'Marion Newman, Mezzo Soprano' (a.k.a. - Our very first giver of feedback ever!)

Website - xkcd comics

Oct 13, 2015

At some point, your career stops being defined by who you'll become, and starts being defined by who you are right now.
Isaiah and Chris talk about this transition, as they've experienced it so far. How is it that we grow into self-sharing artists, no longer afraid of the adjudicator's evaluation? Does this evolution of career happen the same for most singers? Does it serve us well? Does this tipping point actually exist?
Special background guest Connor chimes in on the jackhammer.

-=-Show notes-=-
YouTube - The Seventh Seal - Confession Scene

Folksong Collecting - International Percy Grainger Society

GoodReads - Ira Glass Quotes

'Oranges and Lemons' - English Children's Songs

Screen Shot of 'Brilliant Bach Rehearsal' in Chris' iTunes

Book - 'The Inner Game of Music', Barry Green

Book - 'The Inner Voice', Renée Fleming

Web Comic - 'All These People Seem To Have it Together'

Oct 5, 2015

A frustration at work causes Chris and Isaiah to take time out from their regularly scheduled programming to discuss the idea of "the long game". It's often necessary, especially in the early stages of a career, to work for free or for cheap - or, in fact, to invest time and money of one's own - to gain experience and build a reputation. But how do we tell the difference between an opportunity to invest in one's future, and someone simply taking advantage?

Sep 28, 2015

In the most meta episode ever, Chris and Isaiah talk about second times. What are the challenges we face when our job is to reproduce great performances with consistency? Can expectations unmake us? How can we harness our emotions - even our disappointments - to help us share something true with others every time we step onstage?

-=-Show notes-=-
Brian Deedrick, tour guide extraordinaire - TripAdvisor

Pancea - definition at

YouTube: National Geographic - Weather Versus Climate Change (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

Wendy Nielsen - Soprano, Voice Teacher

YouTube: Die Stille, Schumann (Liederkreis, op.39) - Bryn Terfel

YouTube: Così fan tutte: "Un'aura amorosa"

YouTube: Gluck - Orfeo - Addio o miei sospiri

YouTube: Haydn's The Creation - Opening Section

Sep 16, 2015

An engaging and entertaining talk about the rewards, sacrifices, pitfalls, and triumphs of a career in classical singing. As Chris and Isaiah discuss their experiences with self-doubt, opera contracts, creativity, and life's purpose, it gets pretty real.


Schmopera - 'On the Recording of Opera Singers'

A Boaring Day, not a Boring Day

Opera Lyra (Ottawa, Canada)

YouTube: Vertigo (or Dolly Zoom) Effect Using Your Tripod

YouTube: 'Die Krähe' ('The Crow') From Schubert's Die Winterreise, op.89
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Murray Perahia

'Watch This Kid Fall Into a Piece of Art Worth Over $1.5 Million and Put a Hole in It'

Lucretia (Rembrandt) - National Gallery of Art

YouTube: Tenor aria from Bach's BWV134, 'Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß'

Wikipedia: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs's_hierarchy_of_needs